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Inside Story

Ray Suarez brings together newsmakers and insiders to offer perspectives on the issues of the day.

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00:31:00

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TOPIC FREQUENCY

Ukraine 28, Russia 22, Crimea 20, Europe 5, Ray Suarez 3, Ray 2, Navy 2, Eastern Ukraine 2, Nick 2, Vladimir Putin 2, Nick Schifrin 2, Ukrainians 2, America 2, U.s. 2, Us 2, Iradantism 1, Lang 1, John Seigenthaler 1, Kiev 1, Nazis 1,
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  Al Jazeera America    Inside Story    Ray Suarez brings together newsmakers and  
   insiders to offer perspectives on the issues of the day.  

    March 3, 2014
    5:00 - 5:31pm EST  

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scouts of america because of its policy banning gays in the organization, still does not allow gay leaders. inside story is next on al jazeera america. good question. today's inside story will provide the answers. hello. i am ray suarez.
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did you find yourself wondering during the past week: why is russia interested in a foreign country country? why did vladimir putin take control of the crimean peninsula in a more or less invasion of a next-door-neighbor. and it's a complicated part of the world, home to a complex history so that as the crisis continues to unfold, you will have a better grasp of what came before 2014. ukraine leading up to today. russia tightened its grip in ukraine on monday. russian soldiers are now in control of all ukrainian border posts. tensions remain high. 1 example: earlier in the day, there was a report by the inter fax news agency that the russia's black sea fleet
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commander issued an ultimatum warping ukraine's military. the russian ministry of defense called that report total nonsense. president obama meeting with israeli netanyahu vowed to keep up the diplomatic pressure on russia. >> with impunity to put its soldiers on the ground and violate basic principles, and i think the strong kind of name it's received from indicates the degree to which russia is on the wrong side of history on this. >> president obama said from ukrainian government. >> those in crimea, they are
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illegal. i would repeat. illegal they tried to squeeze ukrainian assets, tried to confiscate ukrainian property, disarm the ukrainian army for these kind of actions, they have to know. >> leaders in kiev and other world capitols fear ukraine's eastern regions may be next. russian foreign minister certain alavrov said troops in ukraine after the recent politicaltrition. >> this is a question of defending our citizens and compatriots. those who are trying to interpret the situation as a sort of aggression and threatening us with sanctions and boycotts, these are the same partners who have been
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consistently encouraging the political powers close to them. ultimately, polarized ukrainian society. >> lavrov called for ukraine's leaders to return to the negotiating table. last month, european delegates and ukraine's two political factions soon after victor yanukovych fled to russia. today, kiev says military action is not an option and is asking world leaders to help stop the efforts at a meet okay monday. >> it's completely legitmat under russian law and given the situation in ukraine, this threat and the threat to our compatriots, russian citizens, these counsel federationfor the use of the armed forces of the territory on ukraine until there
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is a normalization of the country. >> listening to the interim president of russia, the office of the high commissioner for human rights. so many of the assertions made this afternoon by the russian federation are without basis in reality. >> the european union hosted an emergency meeting. >> we talked about the potential of suspended bilateral talks and these are matters on the new agreement. we will consider targeted measures. >> russian leader vladimir putin states in public on his military. the kremlin granted permission for him to use force last week. the german leader spoke to putin on the phone sunday. sources close to him said put inis in another world. vice president joe biden called moscow monday asking russian
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prime minister admit ri demedev to pull back forces. secretary of state john kerry heads to kiev tuesday to show support for the young ukrainian government. people have shifted constantly wherethnic majority did have been vulnerable and open to transformation by powerful states. i mean, you could literally uproot people and plop them down somewhere else. tradition, homeland, nationalism means in 2014? ukraine 101 for all of us trying to understand this crisis in eastern europe on "inside story" before we look back, al jazeera america nick schifrin who joins us from crimea. nick, the state department has said that the russian military
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is in operational control. do you really have a feeling, a sense that that's the truth? >> absolutely, ray. you get the sense that the occupation by the russians is expandi expanding. to the basis i have been to over the last day or so are russian flags being raised, russian soldiers moving in sometimes completely unopposed. we saw one base this afternoon, what looks like coming in, set up 50 cal guns, and they were having lunch for a few hours, doug in right there down the blockug in right there down the blo block an armory, and frankly, they were welcome by the people. we saw about six or seven people ride up in a big, almost paddy
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wagon waving russian flags. these russian soldiers welcoming them. i spoke to one mother with a young son holding her young son, and she said, look. what we believe is that the things happening in kiev, we think they are about to come here. and they believe that, ray. mostly because that's what the russian media that they watch are telling them. so, because of that feeling, and fear that's why they are welcoming russian troops who seem to be expanding while the ukrainian troops are letting it happen. >> you say, "letting it happen." this is an autonomous republic and as han been mentioned, the black sea fleet. the ukrainian forces of various kinds on the ground, are they sticking to their baracks? have they disappeared?
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have they gone back to the rest of ukraine? >> reporter: they are just sticking to their baracks. nor seems on the russian side or ukrainian side to actually want to fire the first shot. at first, when we heard, when we saw the first russian troops enter crimea government, at the time, relies statements, aggressive rhetoric. parliament passed resolutions, promised, promised military action against the invasion as they saw it. hours after that, the u.s. officials whom i spoke to said. this ukrainian officials finally, admitted it. they said to their troops: do not fire unless you are fired upon. so that's why we see this ramped up like a mass operation around these bases by the russian troops coming in and the ukrainian troops are either bedding down. there is some conversation with
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russian troops at certain basis but the bottom line is, a single shot fired and they are continuing to rachet up their pressure. if indeed it's true that they have delivered an ult matum to 2 navy warships to the ukrainian. >> nobody is shooting at anybody, but if it came to that, the russian military is many times the sides of the ukrainian one. isn't it? >> i think it's 140,000. i am not sure my math is good enough. but it's over 800,000 from the russian military. i think the amount of money that the two militaries spend, that sort of number of troops is even more than that. so, no, i don't think anybody believes that ukraine can take
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on the russian navy, military at all. the ukrainian government hasn't said that or wanted to do that. so that's why you see them almost pleading with the united states, with the u.n., with europe, to really put pressure diplomatically and diplomeconom. there is not a lot this government has frankly. that's why you hear president obama come out so forcefully on friday afternoon, once again say the same thing, russia is on the wrong side of history today. lots of conference calls, reporters state, lots of economic talk about sanctions. but so far, president putin does not seem to be listening, and the russian military is not deescalating as the u.s. has wanted it to. it has been escalating. >> nick schifrin, reporting live from the crimean capitol. thanks a lot, nick. we will take a short break. when we come back, we are going
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to go inside this international crisis with an in-depth look at the history of ukraine: this is "inside story."
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primetime news. >> i'm john seigenthaler in new york. >> stories that impact the
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world, affect the nation and touch your life. >> it's like a brawl here in the waters around monterey. >> only on al jazeera america. welcome back to "inside story." i am ray suarez. the political crisis took an ominous turn late last week when russia deployed troops to crimea taking control of that part of southeastern ukraine. on this edition of our program, we are going to try to understand and take a closer look at the history of the region. joining us are hanna foburn, the eurasia. and the european program director for the international renaissance station. professor of international relations and government at georgetown university, author of "odessa: genius in death in a
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city of dreams." professor, couldn't we call this maps of ukraine over many, many centuries and there is not one of them that has the crimea included in what is traditionally ukrainian lands. why is it? >> traditionally ukrainian lands are, traditionally russian lands. part was an empire before the bolshevik revolution. in 1974, there was an agreement that the sovereignty of crimea or the control of crimea from the russian component to the ukrainian component. at the time, that was an internal administrative issue. it had no status in the international system. when ukraine became independent in 1991, the borders that had got when the borders the soph
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yes, it is had given it and that included crimea. >> like giving it? >> in a way, yes. >> and as important a place in, in the russians' own historical imaginations. >> this is a place whereby tradition, christianity, a saint was baptized as a christian but it holds a great deal of importance for other groups, ukrainians, crimeanians and tartars. >> they have enough of a presence in today's crimea to be a part of the debate about the place's future. >> so the crimean tartars who are different than the tartars who live in russia, they were first -- their own enty and part of the ottoman empire and paid tribute to the russian empire.
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today, they make up about 12%, according to the last census of crimea. but that was in 2001. the numbers are thought to have gone up since then. they were expelled from crimea in 1944 by joseph stalin when, after soviet union took land from germany, he decided they had collaborated with the nazis and he wanted them gone. so, he gorted them to central asia. about half of them died along the way. >> so both sides, they throw in their lot with ukraine rather than russia. >> they have. you saw in the protests that happened in kiev during the past three months, several groups of crimean tar tares traveled to kiev. it's partly because as cry crimean tartars look at russia as the people who persecuted
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them. they are afraid of returning to russian sovereignty. >> they call themselves ukrainians today, people who lived as part of nations that are polish, lithuanian, russian, variouse ethnicities for a realy long time. >> it's a very historical question. the whole concept of nation came to europe, from the part of eastern europe maybe even in the 20th century. so, now, for ukrainians, it's for sure that, for instance, what you are speaking of, coming to russia from crimea, but came to ukraine and to mthe center o
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kiev, the capital city of ukraine. it's really probably quite plic indicating for our understanding from the outsider. i would say what we see now in crimea, i was born in the area. i first got information of what was going on there. i would say that it's very -- it's very dangerous situation that we have now. it is really a very blatant lie, what they say. they are struggling, how they could say that because there was no internal conflict before the troops invaded for russia. actually, they are very small part -- small amount of them.
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99% are ukrainian citizens. there was no violation of the russians' rights. i can say for sure because i, myself, i am a russian speaker. i grew up there. i know that until practically in the schools, it's what is introduced to kind of a few days ago. it's not like really violating human rights there of the russian-speaking population. what we have is puttip and they tried to invent any kind of -- i think they just really struggled to invent one. >> let me jump in there, dmytro. if you took a line, made a border around the people who think of themselves as ukrainians in the 21st sent re,
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speak the language, have an active association, they would say, yes, i am ukrainian. would the borders of that place look like the borders of the country that right now exists in central europe? >> i don't think thattethnic principles can be really of use now for defining the borders. what we have now in crimea is people of russians, ethnic russians,ethnic tartars and many others. i know quite a lot of ethnic russians who are ukrainians. the ukrainian citizens and they are part of the police formation. the same goes with crimean
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tartars. the absolute majority of them are quite loyal to ukraine. >> in the -- after this short break, when we come back, we should take talk more about what it means to be a ukrainian and what the country has been like since the fall of the soviet union.
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welcome back to "inside story." on this day, the current political upheaval grip ukraine. president obama said the russians are on the wrong side of history in crimea and ukraine. you lived and worked in crimea. what was the sense of being part of the ukraine that existed where you lived?
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>> you know, i lived there during the georgian conflict. when it came to the end that it did and those pieces ofga became a part of russia, there was jubilation on the streets of crimea. there was a feeling one would hope -- they were ang earthens and russian flags and on garage doors. they were hopeful. there were fears of the crimean tar tares in kiev. it's fearful when something like that happens if we drove east from berlip, would we run into a lot of people who feel like they are on the wrong side of an international border today? >> it's ethnically homo genius. you have populations of culture and history spread across
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international front easier. the dangerous things seems to me that russia is inne ethnic term >> that's a real shift from the status and the standards in europe after 1945. it's a kind of thing we haven't seen since the yugoslav wars. a great power like russia doing this is a real shift from the standards that prevailed in europe after the second world war. >> professor will give you a little homework today. look up ravanchism and iradantism. those are important terms right now. isn't it? there are people who look longingly to the other times. many in ukraine? >> that's right in a sense that of course all borders are accidents of history in one form or another.
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one of the great features of the break-up of the soviet union was that they didn't have, as in yugoslavia conflicts over shifting borders even though ethnic groups didn't match the new countries. there were few exceptions to that in the south caucuses. now crimea. this sets a dangerous precedence. >> dmytro, why is it important for crimeans to stay part of ukraine, in your view? >> it's part of ukraine recognized by international community, by all of the agreements, actually, also by russia as well. by the way, just a month ago, there was a question actually: would you like to join russia? the answer was 41% of people in
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the area saying yes. 41% is not an absolute verdict. of course, there is some situation which is there, but i don't think that it's absolute majority of people wanting to join russia. >> we have a very short time left. if crimea was to try to go, with encouragement to parts of eastern ukraine that would like to become part of russia. is this a dangerous first step? >> well, regions of ukraine are ethnically mostly ukrainians, but at the same time, some of them have really close cultural connections with russia, russian lang, and that much of russian president, for a military presence, this is a crucial part of the whole story is military
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presence in crimea and russia. this is not the same thing in other regions. >> same question, hanna, would that give -- would a change in the status of crimea give hope to russians in eastern ukraine who aren't necessarily wind about being ukrainian? >> i don't necessarily put it in those terms. in my experience, most eastern ukraineians are happy to be part of ukraine. they are allowed to speak their native language and learn it in their schools. but i think if he is allowed to take it so quietly will be emboldened to take parts of eastern ukraine as well. >> professor king, dmytro, thank you for this edition of "inside story." thank you for being with us. in washington, i am ray suarez.
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